Green Horde is the newest game in the Zombicide line from CMON and Guillotine Games. After 3 seasons of fighting zombies in the present day, they moved to a fantasy/medieval setting with 2016’s hugely successful Black Plague, and Green Horde is the follow-up, compatible with Black Plague, or playable as an independent stand-alone.
Both the Medieval Zombicide games are playable by 1-6 players, which can (theoretically) be expanded all the way up to 12 if you own multiple boxes. It’s a cooperative miniatures game which involves lots of dice-chucking, lots of killing Zombies, and lots of fun. Let’s take a closer look inside!
Green Horde – Opening the Horde
Inside the box for Zombicide Green Horde, you’ll find all that you need to confront the plague of undeath that has now spread to Orc kind. 6 Survivors, dashboards to keep track of their stats and equipment, a deck of equipment cards, including some powerful Vault Weapons, and a great big trebuchet!
Up against them, you’ll find a whole host of zombies. An Orc Necromancer (summons more Orc Zombies), 1 Orc Abomination (massive, exceedingly difficult to kill, kills you with a single attack), 14 Orc Fatties (big, hard to kill, kills you with a single attack), 14 Orc Runners (swarmy goblins, move twice as fast as other Orcs) and 35 standard Orc walkers. Again, these come with a big stack of cards to determine when they appear on the map.
There is also a rule/scenarios book, and various tokens for spawn-points, noise, doors, and objectives. There are 9 terrain tiles where the game actually takes place, and dice to determine the outcome of attacks.
Got the gear – How does it play?
All weapons in Zombicide follow the same basic pattern
Every game of Zombicide involves picking a scenario, setting up the map, and placing various tokens. Your survivors will each take a turn, and start with 3 actions that can be used to move, fight zombies, or explore. Once all the survivors have been, all the zombies in play activate, attacking survivors in their zone, or moving towards the noisiest survivors if there’s no-one on hand to eat (prioritising those they can see). Then, you spawn more zombies from a deck of cards.
The higher level your Survivor(s), the more/nastier zombies you’ll be facing
Killing zombies earns XP for your survivor, and as you accumulate enough XP you level up, earning new abilities. However, each spawn card shows 4 different possibilities for Zombies appearing, and you resolve the one which corresponds to the survivor in the game with the most XP! This means you need to think carefully about keeping XP balanced among characters so that you don’t unleash a massive army which only 1 survivor is in any state to fight.
Your characters also start out with some very basic equipment, and you will need to get better weapons to really take the fight to the zombies. Once per turn, if your survivor is in a building, and there are no zombies in the space, they can draw a card from the equipment deck – it might be a nice new weapon (or another rubbish one), but there’s a chance it could be a zombie! (hint: never search as the final action of the round!)
Seli, one of the survivors, at the start of the game
Zombicide Green Horde doesn’t change any of these fundamentals that have made Zombicide a success, and that’s already enough to ensure that you’ve got a good, solid game on your hands here. Now though, let’s take a closer look at what’s unique about Green Horde.
A Tougher Enemy…
Zombies Orcs are tough. Walkers and Necromancers will each do 2 damage to a survivor if they activate in your space (twice the damage of their human counterparts). Perhaps more worryingly, each Fatty or Abomination does 3 damage, which can wipe out a full-health survivor with one hit – finding some armour gives you a chance to save against fatties, but for the Abomination that’s instant-death.
Runners (Goblins) only do 1 damage, but they get 2 actions every time they activate, so can move twice, or move and attack. Goblins come in large swarms and can overwhelm a group of survivors with very little warning.
…Requires Sterner Measures
By itself, a Norse sword is the same as the Hammer from Black Plague. However, if you can pair it with a Norse shield, it rolls 4 dice (and you now have a shield for defence)
Green Horde gives survivors some really nice bits of equipment. A starting spell which opens doors for an action removes the pain of earlier editions of Zombicide where the party might spend whole turns failing to open a door. A lot of the equipment in Green Horde is new, offering either greater power or greater flexibility, and there are also plenty of sets of equipment – weapons that are usable on their own, but offer extra power and synergy if paired together, like the Norse sword and shield.
Lightning Ball (From GH)doesn’t have quite the range of a Lightning Bolt, or the Firepower or a Fireball (both from BP), but as a balanced option, it’s great
Perhaps the most obvious example of a big new toy is the Trebuchet. For 3 actions, a survivor in the space with the Trebuchet can fire it at any non-adjacent space on the board, or at the horde tile. It offers 3 ammunition types, 6 dice for 1 damage (ok for killing Walkers and Runners), 3 dice dealing 2 damage (needed to kill Fatties), or a single dice dealing 3 damage (needed for an Abomination).
Be careful though! Manning the trebuchet can be a full-time job, especially if it’s far away from the objectives. This can lead to a survivor or two just camping out there for large periods of the game, not really getting to use their abilities, or do much that’s interesting – We always play Zombicide with at least 2 survivors each, so we always get to do something on our turns. Trebuchet-wielding survivors can also rack up experience very quickly, meaning you’ll either need to spend some actions changing over who’s on Trebuchet duty, or find yourself going orange quite early in the game, at a point when the other survivors might not have properly geared up yet.
The real kicker, is when you get a scenario that doesn’t give you easy access to the Trebuchet – scenario 5 is the first of these, with the Trebuchet in a locked building, the doors to which can only be opened after you find the coloured objectives. Suddenly your only way to kill an abomination is by finding a torch and dragon bile!
Here comes the Horde!
I’ve mentioned a few times now “the horde” which – as the name might suggest – is a new feature in Zombicide Green Horde. If you look carefully at the spawn cards in Green Horde, you’ll notice a little +1 at the side – that’s because every time you add Fatties, Runners or Walkers to the board, you add one of them to an off-board area called “the horde.” Scattered throughout the deck, there are also a selection of “Enter the Horde” cards which immediately end that bout of zombie-spawning, and put everything from the horde on instead.
Horde tile from the Kickstarter. A piece of paper, or the box lid does the job just as well
Sometimes this will be nothing – for example if you get 2 of these cards in a row – and you get a let-off for a round. Other times you’ll open up an innocuous-looking 1-room building and find 30 zombies inside! The Horde is definitely swingy, but I think it’s a fun twist, and a good way to keep Zombicide fresh, and to prevent the players from ever being too safe.
Where are we? Getting the lay of the land
Rolf crosses the hedge and rolls a dice… 1! There was a zombie hiding behind it!
Previously, terrain has tended to be a fairly minor factor in Zombicide. Most of the time you were in the streets (essentially the default setting) or you were in buildings (reduced visibility, and you can search for more items), with walls and door to separate them –A survivor uses an action/some equipment to open a door (revealing the zombies inside!) and that building is now open. Simple.
a little while later, Seli is up to yellow level, giving her a 4th action, and she has found a better weapon and a shield. However, she’s also taken a bite from a Goblin, leaving on 2 health…
Green Horde does quite a bit to mix up the terrain you can encounter. A lot of the tiles have large open spaces, divided by hedges: you can move through hedges, but you can’t see through them, making great hiding places for both Zombies and survivors. It also makes it harder to control zombie movement as they scatter around the board, rather than seeing a target from a distance and all closing in on it.
Asim needs to be careful in the water – luckily if he moves to the space directly below him (costing 2 actions) the Zombies won’t be able to follow!
At the other extreme there are waterholes, which slow survivors down (although not zombies). Waterholes make movement hard and can get a bit complicated with their edges – anyone can move from water-to-water and from water up a smooth bank, but many waterholes are bounded by ledges, which survivors can climb, but Zombies cannot. There is at least one scenario which you can completely cheese by exploiting this rule!
Lastly there are barriers – features which block movement, but not line-of-sight. This can provide a good way to stave off a zombie swarm at range, but barriers can be destroyed by Zombies who get stuck behind them for too long.
Overall, Hedges add a really interesting twist to Zombicide. Waterholes and Barriers felt like weaker elements to me, although not problematic enough to stop Green Horde from being a great game.
I’m new – Should I get this first?
If you’re new to Zombicide, there’s a question to be asked about whether you go straight to Green Horde, or you should start with Black Plague?
There are lots of little clues that Green Horde is a continuation of Black Plague. For a start, the terrain tiles in the game are numbered from 12 upwards (Black Plague was 1-9. Wulfsburg, the Black Plague expansion, was 10-11) rather than starting afresh. On top of that, the difficulty is probably a bit higher, and the rules are slightly more complex.
Late-game, Seli is ready to kill! She’s up to orange with an extra skill, has healed back to full health and her Falchion/Dagger/Hammer combo lets her take on most zombies in the game. It’s time for some Zombicide!
Despite all that though, Green Horde is still a perfectly playable standalone game. Everything you need to have a blast killing zombies is right in this box. If this is easier to get hold of, the orc theme appeals to you more, or you just want to have a great big trebuchet to fire, then you have no need to worry about starting your Zombicide journey here, and having a whole lot of fun.
Green Horde: Final Thoughts
Overall, Zombicide Green Horde is a great game: it takes a well-established concept and adds a few tweaks – enough to keep things fresh, but not changing so much that it loses the original charm. Overall, it feels like the game is a little harder, and it probably punishes sloppy/reckless gameplay more than Black Plague did, but the barrier to entry is still fairly low.
For established fans, this is a brilliant sequel, and was an absolute no-brainer to add to my Zombicide collection. If you’re new to the franchise, it’s still a great starting-point.
Overall I’d give this 9/10 – there’s no such thing as a perfect game, and it would be nice if there were more than 10 scenarios (expansions add more, and additional ones will probably appear online over time), but it’s really hard to find much to complain about here.
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I'm an avid board and card-gamer, still trying to figure out where Board Gaming fits into life as the dad of a very grabby toddler.
I enjoy thematic games (Fantasy, Cthulhu, etc) and play a lot of cooperative games, along with a bit of competitive gaming (currently Legend of the Five Rings) when I can make it out of the house.
When not playing games, I can be found doing a mundane office job, or working on my own Blog, Fistful of Meeples.